The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has introduced the Banana Livelihoods Diversification project in a bid to boost banana growing in Uganda and help farmers when it comes to adding value to their produce.
According to Ministry officials, the project was introduced to support communities to better adapt to the effects of Climate Change through Banana value addition activities, so as to provide greater opportunities for income generation, poverty reduction among youth and food security.
Under the Banana Livelihoods Diversification project, experts from the Ministry of Agriculture have set up an infrastructure that helps farmers to process their harvested produce into banana by-products like juice, wine, crisps, Matooke flour, among others.
The Ministry has also deployed a team of researchers and experts to train farmers in various parts of the country and equip them with skills on how to process the perishable bananas harvested from their gardens into products that have a longer shelf life.
The Minister for Agriculture Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, visited one of the value addition facilities for farmers under the Banana Livelihoods Diversification project, after which he tweeted thus;
“Having visited these completed facilities for value addition along the Banana value chain, we noted the processing of quality products for both the local and international markets. They sell at higher prices. Our aim now is to replicate the model for more commodities in Uganda.”
“Today, farmers linked to the Banana Livelihoods Diversification project supported by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Global Environment Facility process value-added products from Bananas and receive higher profits,” he added.
According to the Minister, the trainees in Banana Value Addition undergo practical sessions to study how to start-up agribusinesses and maintain sales and production of Banana juice, flour, and wine. Such facilities are providing more market even during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown than any other venture, according to Minister Ssempijja.
The Minister also revealed that countrywide, project supervision activities are being undertaken to ascertain community adoption and sustainability of the Banana Livelihoods Diversification project, such that all Ugandans can benefit from this government initiative.
For instance, last week staff from the Ministry of Agriculture were in Maracha district to monitor project activities and community participation in the fight against malnutrition.
During the tour, they sensitized the community about the Banana Livelihoods Diversification project and enlightened locals about how they can tap into the project.
Beneficiaries of the Project
Officials from the Ministry revealed to this website that one of the beneficiaries of the project so far is SILGAD Winery, a facility in Mbarara District, which presses wine from Bananas. SILIGAD Winery has since partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture under the Banana Livelihoods Diversification project to train farmers on how they can extract juice and wine from bananas.
Minister Ssempijja visited SILIGAD Winery a few days ago and commended its proprietors for such a great initiative, saying that such avenues of value addition can help farmers to get better value for their produce in terms of revenue.
He noted that the facilities supported through the Banana Livelihoods Diversification Project also receive standard equipment that enables them to process the highest quantity and quality of products possible.
“The state-of-the-art equipment is now being put to more use because of the increased production of Bananas. They are increasing both value addition and market,” Minister Ssempijja noted shortly after visiting SILIGAD Winery.
He revealed that these interventions are aimed at increasing Banana value addition and that currently, the Ministry is liaising with farmers in the Districts of Mbarara, Ntungamo, Isingiro, Bushenyi, Sheema, Mitooma, Buhweju and Rubirizi to embrace the project if they want to benefit more from their banana farming.
This is because; “In addition to fetching higher prices, products from Bananas also stay longer on the shelf,” Prof. George William Byarugaba-Bazirake, a Banana Value Addition and industrialization specialist from the Ministry of Agriculture, contends.
Prof. Bazirake noted that through this project, more entrepreneurs in agribusiness, also known as agripreneurs, are supported to add value to Bananas, also known as Matooke, and process products like Wine, Banana Chips and Flour which fetch higher prices and profits for them and the farmers linked to the facilities.
He revealed that this project has delivered 9 processing facilities, 1 Juice Processing facility in Bushenyi, 4 wineries, 4 Banana Solar Drying Facilities, and 200 bio-digesters, all located in various parts of the country.